White Katana’s work is celestial, here's my visual interpretation of his track "SORCERER". He's got this distressed, otherworldly theme across all of his work that I'm attached to, I tried to capture a bit of that in this video.
This project was my excuse to dive deeper into VideoCopilot's Orb Plugin for After Effects. I touched on it briefly in my last video but wasn't happy with the results given how powerful the results can be with a little time invested. The most important factor I've found for making great planets are the maps. Textures were sourced from Nasa's Space Images page as well as Solar System Scope. Diffuse textures play a small role in setting up a nice scene, normal and height maps are required to bring out a lot of detail. I generated normal and height maps from the diffuse map using an incredible little program called Materialize.
A lot of the scenes are straightforward, but a few are interesting enough to break down here. For the scene at the start where the moon turns dark before the drop, I animated an 8K solid with a ton of Advanced Lightning effects stacked to create a corrupted look. It uses the original moon's illumination map as a matte to appear only at certain values on the texture to give it an illusion of depth.
I use this technique again at 0:40 in combination with VideoCopilot's Saber Plugin to set the moon on fire. A scrolling Fractal Noise layer was used as a matte for the illumination layer to incorporate some flowing movement on the planet's surface.
The two main effects in the front-facing shot come out of Trapcode Particular and Fractal Noise. Particular is used for the particles leaving the planet and coming towards the camera. For the lines traversing along the planet's surface towards the center, it's an Illumination Map built out of a stretched Fractal Noise layer with Turbulence Displace to give an uneven look.
Polar Coordinates was used to turn the vertical composition spherical. I came across an invaluable project file from Andrew Kramer for seamlessly mapping equirectangular compositions. Without this, large vfx comps look warped and distorted when mapped on a sphere.
This one is pretty straightforward, the beam is just a stretched Fractal Noise comp wrapped with CC Cylinder and some Bulge near the planet's surface. Glow and Shine are used to brighten the beam. The tiny particles coming off of the beam are Particular.
This shot and the next one were the last shots I completed for this video. I came up with these on the spot during a livestream if you're curious to see my process. The idea for this was a laser targeting the planet, similar to a laser engraving machine aligning to a surface before engraving.
I want to make a more in-depth video tutorial/breakdown for this effect because I haven't seen a similar technique like this before. It's a stack of very simple effects that made a result that can have a wide variety of outcomes.
It's just a shape layer and an adjustment layer. The shape layer is horizontal bar with a Gradient Overlay layer style to fit an even gradient across it's height. The bar starts out small at the top of the composition and moves down while increasing it's height. The magic comes out of the effects stacked on the adjustment layer and how it's animated.
The adjustment layer is masked to only cover half of the shape layer. As the shape layer moves and expands, the mask's feather increases to cover it's height. The adjustment layer is stacked with bunch of Roughen Edges, a Directional Blur, and a Displacement Map. The Roughen Edges stretch the shape layer taller and create random variation in the peaks and valleys. There's diminishing returns with stacking any more Roughen Edges, so the Directional Blur stretches the striations longer and fades them out smoothly. The Displacement Map plays the key role in changing how the visuals of the effect look, and there's several ways to design the Fractal Noise to tailor the visuals any way you want.
Those are the only shots I felt worth breaking down. This was a fun project, Orb is very powerful and it was a good exercise to explore spherical mapping and some new effect ideas. Support White Katana on Soundcloud, Bandcamp, and Spotify.
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